How Breitbart’s Last War Began

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Chris Faraone has written a blockbuster piece for The Phoenix this week about the world of right wing new media. Telling the larger story of Brett Kimberlin mania through the experiences of Nadia Naffe, former assistant to James O’Keefe, Faraone can only describe the surface of Planet Breitbart in ten thousand words. But there is plenty to like about his article. For instance, this chilling quote caught my eye:

With financing from Thiel and Breitbart, Naffe says O’Keefe had turned the RV into a mobile intelligence center equipped with newly purchased smartphones, flatscreens, and recording devices. With those tools on hand, the crew concocted its crusade against congressional cronyism. On her first full day in LA, Naffe says she and O’Keefe hit various OneUnited branches in Los Angeles. Using a hidden camera, O’Keefe recorded video of different loan agents giving contradicting information on available tax credits. There was no smoking gun — none of the employees accepted a cash bribe that O’Keefe offered them. But Naffe says they had enough to show that there was mass confusion among OneUnited workers. From there, the pair headed off to the congresswoman’s office in South Central Los Angeles, where Naffe would ambush Waters about being rejected by OneUnited and capture her reaction on video.

Right wing “sting” operations have only become more numerous since 2011. Well-financed by enthusiastic donors, these shops boast resources few progressive startups can match — and chances are that if your new cause is effective against right wing or corporate power, it will see some of that money and resources directed at it. As I have been warning progressive organizers since O’Keefe’s misleading videos destroyed ACORN, they are coming for your activism, and they aren’t taking prisoners.

Faraone’s article is worth buying the magazine to read. It’s an excellent example of long-form journalism, but a comprehensive history of the Breitbots would require a thick book. He only mentions the National Bloggers Club in passing, for example, focusing on its founding interest in Kimberlin-fearmongering rather than its founders’ dubious history of fleecing grassroots conservatives. Another subject not treated in enough depth is the story of what Andrew Breitbart was doing right before he died, one year ago tomorrow:

On February 29, leaked emails show, Breitbart held a teleconference call with a New Jersey investigative firm called Vested Protective Systems to discuss conducting recon on his enemies. He spoke to a consultant named Michelle who followed up with an email noting the targets  they’d talked about and drafting potential methods to deal with them. Suggestions included: infiltrating the faceless collective Anonymous “to cause a rift between the left and the hackers”; further eviscerating Kimberlin’s reputation; ratting out Twitter rivals to Stephen Blair, a Boston Police Special Investigation Detective with whom Michelle claimed to have a professional relationship; and making a “fool” out of Nadia Naffe.

That firm is Vested Protection Systems, LLC, and there is good evidence that Breitbart had been in communication with them since at least Weinergate. The Michelle mentioned there is the mysterious female voice of @ZAPEM, a right wing research operation. The group surrounding the mysterious Michelle, collectively known as the Jersey Kooks, includes Jennifer Emick, Mike Stack, and Tom Ryan. Emick promotes herself as an expert on Anonymous; Stack is a cyberstalking former porn blogger who got enmeshed in the Anthony Weiner scandal and lives on mental disability; Ryan is the would-be genius behind the Robin Sage scandal.

One year ago tomorrow, Andrew Breitbart held his last teleconference with someone representing that collection of nuts and obsessives. Their goofy plan — infiltrate the hacker collective Anonymous, blame the left for the infiltration, and somehow roll it all up into Brett Kimberlin-mania with Nadia Naffe’s good name in the mix — did not die with Breitbart. It has continued, and has not yet fully ground to a halt. Indeed, the Breitbots sought to expand their war as far as possible. That fact explains everything I have been blogging about since last June, including Breitbart protege Lee Stranahan’s ongoing harassment of Bill Schmalfeldt.

Faraone prominently features John Patrick Frey @Patterico, as he should, but he doesn’t examine Frey’s larger pattern of abuse or questions about his conduct as a deputy district attorney. I was also disappointed that Faraone doesn’t examine the SWAT story in greater detail. Counterpoint to the inflationary claims of harassment by Brett Kimberlin, there seems to have been false-flag harassment aimed at pushing Kimberlin-hysteria into the mainstream. Despite these quibbles, however, it’s a fantastic piece.

Read it here.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
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